By Ed Runyan
In the statement Karen Adams gave to Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on Friday before being sentenced to six years in prison, she wasn’t taking all of the blame for Robert Flynn’s death.
Adams fatally shot Flynn, 15, of Masury, Aug. 9, 2009, when Flynn and other youths arrived at her house at 2:30 a.m. to confront Adams’ boyfriend, Paul Sundy, regarding Sundy’s teen daughter. The boys had baseball bats and metal pipes.
“A lot of mistakes were made that night, not all of them on my part,” said Adams, 31, of Stateline Road in Masury.
Adams pleaded guilty earlier to involuntary manslaughter and three counts of felonious assault.
“I think if any lesson should be learned from this, it’s by teaching our kids about morals and right from wrong, and knowing where they are, a lot can be prevented,” Adams said.
“That doesn’t change the decisions I made in a panic and in fear while trying to protect my family and my children.”
Adams is the mother of children age 12 and 10. Sundy, 42, is charged with tampering with evidence and obstructing justice, and his case is pending.
Prosecutors said the driver of the car, John Ost, 17, had threatened Sundy over the phone in advance of the confrontation, which gave credibility to Adams’ argument that she fired the gun in self-defense.
The boys involved were 17, 17, 16 and 15. Flynn would have been a freshman that fall at Brookfield High School.
The six-year sentence was a joint recommendation to Judge McKay from the prosecutors and defense.
A family member read a statement to the court from Kathy Gaines, Robert Flynn’s mother, in which she described how important Robert was to his family and how faithful he was to his friends.
“He was voted most dependable in school,” she said. “To his friends he was supportive, and they knew they could count on him. Even if it was just to talk or listen so they could vent.”
She agreed with Adams that mistakes were made the night Flynn died.
“I have asked myself a million times why would Robert get in that car. What went on that day had nothing to do with him. Robert made a bad decision that day and paid the ultimate price.
“Ms. Adams made many bad decisions that day,” she continued. “No punishment will ever take away my pain or bring back my son, but she took a human being’s life that day, and for that she must pay.”
Before sentencing Adams, Judge McKay said the case illustrates the reason why people are regularly told that they can’t resolve differences by fighting.
He added that three things can happen: “You might get hurt, someone else might get hurt, someone might go to prison.”
The 36 family and friends of Flynn who attended the hearing applauded as Adams was led from the courtroom in handcuffs to begin serving her prison term. Each was wearing a T-shirt containing pictures of Flynn.
Flynn’s stepfather, Terry Rankin, said after the hearing he was not satisfied with Adams’ six-year sentence.
“It’s ridiculous to kill a 15-year-old boy. She only got six years. That boy was nothing but an angel,” Rankin said.